The lights are on
Responding to concerns from three congresspeople, the Federal Trade Commission announced that it intends to investigate how virtual goods are marketed and sold within mobile applications like free-to-play games.In light of a well-publicized story about an eight-year-old purchasing $1,800 worth of Smurfberries in Capcom's iOS title Smurfs' Village, U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Mark Pryor (D-AK) and U.S. Representative Ed Markey (D-MA) filed letters voicing their concern over the practices used by microtransaction-fueled games and apps, particularly with regard to children like this one who may not understand what they're getting into.
FTC chairman Jon Leibowitz responded to those complaints in a letter earlier this week, stating, "Let me assure you we will look closely at the current industry practice with respect to the marketing and delivery of these types of applications."As a general rule I don't love the government sticking its nose into our favorite industry, but consumer rights cases like this one are an area I'm not opposed to the FTC taking an interest. The practices revolving around monetizing free-to-play games can be disingenuous, and if Apple won't stop questionable actions like this (why would it? Apple will be taking 30% off the top of nearly all purchases made on iOS devices when its new App Store rules go into effect at the end of the month), somebody should.[Washington Post via Gamasutra]